National Roundup

Arizona
Ruling: Judges have leeway on remedy for juror exclusions

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Supreme Court says trial judges have leeway in deciding what remedy to use when prosecutors exclude potential jurors of the same race as a defendant.
The court’s unanimous decision Wednesday says whether to declare a mistrial and start jury selection anew or to just seat the wrongfully excluded jurors depends on circumstances, including whether the affected potential jurors knew that prosecutors improperly used race-based peremptory challenges to exclude them.
The decision largely upholds two lower courts’ rulings and upholds the conviction and sentence of a Pinal County drug defendant.
Francisco Miguel Urrea wanted jury selection in his trial to start over because the prosecution used peremptory challenges to target potential jurors with Hispanic backgrounds.The judge instead restored three jurors.

Oklahoma
Home builder ­sentenced to 3 years in theft case

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma custom home builder has been sentenced to three years in a federal prison in connection with an interstate theft ring.
Federal prosecutors said Thursday that 45-year-old Dennis Lee pleaded guilty in November to possession of stolen property that crossed a state boundary and possession of a firearm after a felony conviction.
A five-count indictment handed up last year alleged Lee was involved in the theft of vehicles and other items from Texas, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. The stolen items were allegedly transported to the Oklahoma City area and sold.
Prosecutors say some of the stolen property was stored at Lee’s business, Richardson Homes, LLC, of Oklahoma City. Among other things, Lee must pay restitution to victims of the theft ring and will be required to forfeit 16 firearms.

Ohio
Former model pleads guilty in murder-for-hire

CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A former model accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill the mother of her two stepdaughters has pleaded guilty in Ohio to conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and been sentenced to five years in prison.
The Columbus Dispatch reports Tara Lambert, also known as Tara Arbogast, entered the plea Wednesday in Pickaway County.
Prosecutors say Lambert provided a $125 down payment to a hit man who was an undercover police detective.
The 35-year-old Ashville woman was sentenced to seven years in prison on the charge in 2016. An appeals court overturned that conviction last year, citing an error in the original indictment. She will get credit for time served for that conviction.

North Carolina
That’s not ­seaweed on Cape Hatteras

OCRACOKE, N.C. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say investigators have found more than seaweed at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
A North Carolina man has been arrested and charged with growing marijuana among the sea oats on the protected land on the Outer Banks.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh said in a news release that James Daniel Garrish III of Ocracoke was arrested Tuesday and charged with cultivating marijuana on federal property.
Garrish is also charged with introducing plants into the park ecosystem, littering, trespassing, and defacing and damaging real property. It was not known if he has a lawyer.
Authorities said the marijuana was found on the inland side of Ocracoke Island.
Ocracoke Island is home to Ocracoke Village, a former fishing settlement that has become a busy summer tourist destination.

Maine
Murderer of own grandmother wants reduced sentence

ALFRED, Maine (AP) — A Maine man convicted of murdering his grandmother and setting fire to her house is requesting a lighter sentence, with his attorney arguing the crime wasn’t “the worst of the worst.”
Twenty-nine-year-old Derek Poulin is asking the court to reduce his life sentence. The Journal Tribune reports Poulin’s attorney was in court in Alfred to make arguments Tuesday.
Poulin was convicted of murdering his 61-year-old grandmother, Patricia Noel, by beating her with a golf club and stabbing her 70 times before burning her home.
Nielsen argues the sentence is unfair because of his client’s age of 23 at the time of the crime.
State prosecutors countered by saying that it’s unfair that Noel is dead, and noting Poulin would have likely received the death penalty in other states.

Florida
83-yr.-old man charged with ­posing as veteran

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — An 83-year-old Florida man has pleaded guilty to pretending to be a veteran so he could receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits.
According to a statement from the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Florida, Richard Kohl claimed to serve with the Marines in the Korean war, forging government documents so he could collect $220,000 in benefits.  He alleged he received a Purple Heart after being shot. He first filed for benefits in 1996, but the Department of Veterans Affairs denied it, saying it couldn’t find his medical records.
According to prosecutors, Kohl submitted a request for disability pension benefits nine years later and was accepted. They said he received more than $110,000 in pension benefits plus costly medical care.
He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Massachusetts
Friends convicted on charges of exchanging drug trial info

BOSTON (AP) — Two friends who worked at different pharmaceutical companies in Boston have been convicted of insider trading related charges.
Prosecutors say 54-year-old Songjiang Wang, of Westford, and 54-year-old Schultz "Jason" Chan, of Newton, were convicted Tuesday on multiple securities fraud charges. The U.S. attorney for Massachusetts says the two were friends and used their positions to exchange information about successful drug trials at their businesses. They then used those tips to purchase stock before the information was made public.
Authorities did not name the companies involved in court documents or in news releases. Both men were charged last year.
They face up to 20 years in prison at sentencing scheduled for October.
 

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